It’s been a tough, wild ride, but finally we know the truth behind the Shadyside Killers in Netflix’s . The trilogy of films took us from , back to 1978 and finally 1666, exploring why possessed serial killers were brutally murdering the residents of Shadyside, Ohio. It all had something to do with Sarah Fier, a witch who cursed the town to centuries of misfortune, while on the other side of the tracks, the town of Sunnyvale thrived.
Was Sarah Fier really evil? Why do Sunnyvale residents hate Shadysiders? What’s the truth behind the curse? Let’s dive into all of that and more below.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
Is Sarah Fier evil?
When Deena reunites Sarah Fier’s hand with the rest of her skeleton, she flashes back in time to 1666, where she witnesses the truth behind the Shadyside curse.
Deena sees that Sarah Fier was innocent, that she was framed for witchcraft by Solomon Goode, Sheriff Nick Goode’s pilgrim ancestor. Using “A Simple Exchange” incantation from a book of the Devil (discovered in Widow Mary’s house, a woman rumored to be immortal after striking a deal with the Devil), Solomon summons the Devil and makes a deal to turn his misfortunes around. He wants “power, prosperity and legacy” and is willing to pay the price of a single soul every few years.
He writes the sacrifice’s name on the stone wall in the secret passage beneath his house and the Devil possesses them. Sarah points out this sees the murders of even more people, as the Devil heads out on a killing spree.
To stop her from telling everyone, Solomon frames Sarah for the deaths of multiple children in the village (he’d initially tried to frame Pastor Miller). This is an easy task, when the villagers already believe Sarah’s soul to be damned, after she was discovered kissing and falling in love with Hannah Miller, the pastor’s daughter.
The villagers hang Sarah, but not before she promises to reveal the truth about the Goodes. “The truth shall be your curse,” she tells Solomon. “I will shadow you for eternity. And everything you take and everyone you harm, you will feel the grip of my hand. I will follow you forever. I will never let you go.”
This is why when Deena completes Sarah’s skeleton, she sees exactly what happened in 1666. However, there’s a consequence: Anyone who touches Sarah’s bones becomes a target of the Shadyside Killers.
What does the feud between Sunnyvale and Shadyside mean?
One of the first things established in Part One: 1994 is the feud between Ohio’s (fictional) rich and poor rival towns. Shadyside is known as the murder capital of the United States, while Sunnyvale is considered one of the richest and safest cities in the country. “Bad things always happen to Shadysiders,” Sadie Sink’s Ziggy says.
What’s the connection? Why is one better than the other?
In their deal with the Devil, Sunnyvale family the Goodes trade the people of Shadyside for prosperity and wealth. Sheriff Nick Goode gives a name to the Devil, who then possesses that person and goes on a murder rampage, killing Shadysiders and feeding on their blood.
In return, Sheriff Goode gets whatever he wants. He becomes sheriff, his brother Will Goode becomes mayor and all of Sunnyvale becomes better and better, at Shadyside’s expense. It carries on through generations, one Goode taking on the evil mantle.
Are Sunnyvale and Shadyside real cities?
A real Shadyside, Ohio exists, but thankfully the violent history depicted in the films is fictional (the movies are based on R.L. Stine’s popular Fear Street book series after all). Several Sunnyvales exist as well, but they’re scattered across the US and don’t border Shadyside.
What are the names written on the stone wall?
In Part Two: 1978, Alice (Cindy’s former friend) and Cindy (Ziggy’s sister) find a wall carved with the names of all the Shadyside Killers underneath Sarah Fier’s house. Alice realizes that anyone whose name is written into the rock becomes possessed. Nurse Lane’s daughter Ruby Lane is one of the possessed and attacks Simon in 1994. This is why Nurse Lane tries to kill Tommy Slater, knowing he too will turn into a killer, after she sees his name written on the wall.
The names written on the wall include Cyrus Miller (the pastor), William “Billy” Barker, Ruby Lane (Nurse Lane’s daughter), Isaac Milton and Harry Rooker (The Milkman).
Who are the different killers?
Deena’s little brother Josh collects newspaper clippings of the Shadyside Killers. They reveal a memorable list of slasher monikers, although the film series doesn’t delve deep into the backstories. Here’s what we know from the short snippets.
Ruby Lane: Nurse Lane’s daughter, a 16-year-old Shadyside high schooler who murdered her boyfriend and six more with a razor in 1965. You can tell she’s coming when you hear her singing You always hurt the one you love, by the Mills Brothers. Ruby’s wrists are slashed — a sign of her attempt at killing herself and (unsuccessfully) ending the curse.
Humpty Dumpty Killer: A newspaper clipping reveals that in 1935, the Humpty Dumpty Killer “strikes again.” The details aren’t clear, except that the killer’s victims likely can’t be put back together again.
Farmer of Death: A note on Josh’s detective wall says “Farmer of Death — 1890.” We don’t learn more than that.
Billy Barker: Aka the creepy mask-wearing child. Barker bludgeons his sleeping brother in bed with a baseball bat in 1922. According to another newspaper clipping, Barker died in unknown circumstances following the murder. Like Ruby Lane, he too probably tried to (unsuccessfully) end the curse by killing himself.
The Milkman: In the 1950s, Harry Rooker was a milkman before he became one of the Shadyside Killers. The Milkman went on a murder rampage, killing his customers — all of them housewives — with a switchblade.
The Grifter: In 1904, The Grifter is shown in a quick flashback to be drowning a girl in a lake. Although, a newspaper clipping indicates The Grifter’s favored murder method has something to do with the alliteration: “Grifter Guts Girls.”
Camp Nightwing Killer: This is Tommy Slater, whose axe-wielding origins we see in Part Two: 1978. “Group of campers, brutal massacre. There was one Shadyside survivor, C. Berman,” his newspaper clipping reads.
That post-credits scene
After Sarah kills Sheriff Nick Goode by stabbing him in the eye and the Shadyside Killers disappear (along with what appears to be gruesome Devil’s spawn underneath Shadyside Mall), a news reporter reveals “information continues to surface implicating Union County Sheriff Nicholas Goode, the Sunnyvale serial killer.”
The reporter goes on to say that the Goode family “maintains they had no knowledge of Sheriff Goode’s horrifying secret.”
We then see a short scene during the end credits. Underneath the mall, behind the sheriff do not cross police tape, the charred book of the Devil is swiped by an unknown person.
This is great news for fans who want more from the Fear Street world (we don’t have any news on follow-up films or TV series just yet).
As for those hands? We can only speculate who stole the book at this point, but maybe the Goode family isn’t done with the Devil just yet.